Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
For Giovanni Savale, lead singer of Three Deaf Mice, life could never be less like that of a rock ‘n roll star. His band reached the heights of popularity in the ninties, until an experimental album almost destroyed their fan base. Now Gio is trying to put together a new album in the midst of a personnel crisis. After nine years of a tumultuous and unhappy marriage, Gio is trying to hold on to the only good thing that came out of that union, his son Marco. In order to get the money needed for an expensive divorce lawyer and to provide a stable home for his son, Gio has agreed to be a part of a reality series about him and the band. Only its not going the way Gio expected.
The series producer wants to increase the show’s ratings and to do so he intends to showcase Gio’s bisexuality and a new “fabulous” boyfriend, a fake boyfriend to boost interest in the show. It all started with a comment made off the cuff in an interview Gio did for a rock magazine. He never thought that lead to this mess and the revival of desires Gio thought he had buried in his past.
Kyrie, the flamboyant and funny actor hired as Gio’s pretend boyfriend is cute but it’s Lance Garrett, the mysterious and sexy owner of the local antique shop, that sparks Gio’s interest and passion. But Lance is hiding secrets of his own. In between battling his ex for custody of Marco,fighting the producer for some sanity and privacy, and Lance’s past, can Gio find love and the happiness he seeks?
I throughly enjoyed the first book in the shooting stars series, Forever is Now. That had a rock star, a former lover, a past to be reconciled and a love that burned brightly throughout the years. It has a small cast of characters and a basic, endearing plot. Double Takes, the second novel in the Shooting Stars series, is a whole different type of story.
I was intrigued by the premise of Double Takes. A fading rock star with money and soon-to-be ex-wife issues agrees to a reality cable series about himself and his band in order to earn the money he needs for a high powered lawyer. What a great concept for a story, especially considering the ubiquitous nature of reality tv shows today. An additional element here is the fact that Gio’s true sexuality has been suppressed by the times and his long term marriage. Only a throwaway line in an old magazine interview brings his bisexuality back out into the light. And once that item has been seized on by his unscrupulous producer to be used to launch the new season, then Gio has a whole new set of personal issues to deal with, including outing himself to his bandmates. I liked the way the author dealt with these concepts,uniting them in a cohesive manner into her narrative.
When Double Takes and Gio are dealing with these plot layers, the story is fun, frustrating, and pretty realistic. Unlike the rockers of Forever is Now, I never got the feeling that music was all that important any more for these older rockers. They’ve been there, done that, and are now just playing for the fans and money. They need to tour but Gio is stuck in one place because of his divorce, and needing to provide stability for his son. That’s another very authentic element here as is Gio’s love for his son. So far, we have three plot threads that make this a interesting and terrific story. Between a reality show, a disintegrating marriage and custody battle, a father and son relationship, and having to deal with a hither to unknown aspect of his sexuality, that would absorb the majority of any story. Especially as you will throw in a romance as well that will have Gio reexamining his sexuality and desires. Loved the way the author dealt with this element too.
There are two romantic lead possibilities here. One is Kyrie, the adorable actor hired for the role as Gio’s boyfriend on the series. Vale is setting up Kyrie and his ex brother in law as the next couple in the Shooting Stars series, so the amount of attention given to this secondary player makes sense. Gio’s “real” romantic interest is Lance Garrett, an antiques dealer he met when trying to sell off items to help pay for his lawyer. They meet, are attracted to each other and try to deal with the awkward situation created by the tv show and his “fake” boyfriend. Again, another wonderful concept and it works to highlight relationsip issues and feelings of trust the men have to work through. I really wish the author had left it at this because these men have so much to work through to get to a solid place with their new status as lovers that to portray their “relationship dance” alone could take most of this story.
But that is not to be. And for me this is where the story starts to disconnect from everything the author had established in the preceding chapters. I don’t believe that I am giving away anything by stating that Lance is not what he seems. The blurb infers that there is something mysterious about Lance and there is a problem from the past that will arrive to cause problems. And it does but not just for the characters but for the readers as well.
From this point, the story splits off into something totally unexpected and wildly dissonant from the rest of the story elements we were involved in. It’s almost as if we have an entirely different book and plot going on. It comes out of nowhere and soon the author starts piling on more surprises and twists than this story can or should have been asked to handle. Left behind are all the other major plot points…the band, the tv show, the divorce, even the father/son relationship…all dissolves under the need to work this new angle into Double Takes. For me, this story then crumbles under the weight of all that material and extraneous plot devices.
And that’s a shame because the promise of the original concepts and the wonderful manner in which this story started had me smiling in anticipation of the tale to follow but left me perplexed by how quickly it all fell apart. I did like so much about Double Takes and what the author attempted to do with her characters and plot. It was ambitious and interesting. So I will be looking forward to the next story in this series, featuring Kyrie, an altogether different type of shooting star and Greg, his ex brother in law. While we are waiting for that story to arrive, go back to the beginning and Forever is Now to get your rocker fix from Kimber Vale.
Cover art not credited but I like the cover. Its eye catching and interesting.
Books in the Shooting Stars series include to date:
Forever is Now (Shooting Stars #1)
Double Takes (Shooting Stars #2)